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The Puerto Rican terrorist (alleged) ...


I was in traffic yesterday morning, waiting at the stoplight I hit right before I get on the highway to get to work. The morning radio DJs were spouting their inanities, the ones you can only formulate when years of getting up at 4 a.m. have finally sapped away all the humor and personality you may once have had.

My coffee carrier was in the cupholder, hot enough to secure warm coffee for at least the next two hours.

I picked up the morning's newspaper from the seat next to me, glancing at the front page. Oh, yeah. They busted a guy who wanted to set off a "dirty bomb" in the U.S. That's right. I remembered hearing about that the day before, but not paying all that much attention to it.

I glance at the front page while waiting for the light to change. I read this (from an AP story):

The man suspected of plotting a radioactive bomb attack, a Hispanic Catholic who converted to Islam when he married a Middle Eastern woman, had a criminal record in two states. The record started with an arrest in connection with a slaying when he was a teen-ager, according to law enforcement officials and court records.
In 1985, Jose Padilla -- who was born to Puerto Rican parents but later took the name Abdullah al Muhajir -- told police that after his friend stabbed a stranger in a Chicago alley, he kicked the victim in the head "because he felt like it," according to a police report. He was 14 at the time.

I let out something in the car that sounded like this: "Oh. Aw. Oh fuck fuck FUCK! SHIT!"

Anyone who glanced over into my car at that moment would have seen a furious waving of newspaper pages and arms flying everywhere in wild gesturing.

It had been a nice nine months. We blacks and Hispanics had kind of blended into the woodwork, so to speak, keeping a low profile except for the occasional ALMA awards or news about J.Lo getting separated from her husband.

Things were good. The Palestinians and Israelis were enmeshed in conflict. India and Pakistan were on the brink of war. And nobody was really giving a damn about my people or giving us much of a bad rap. Next to the Taliban, your average Hispanic was as American as Jenny Jones.

Until now.

Now this guy just brought a world of shit on the rest of us. No more tariff-free imports of nasty Puerto Rican malt-flavored beverages. No more getting on a plane at the airport with those bottles of duty-free tequila. No more unfettered Spanish speaking in public speaking. The crackdown is imminent.

It's a totally irrational thing to base perceived notions about your
entire race on the busting of one guy who falls into your group, but it happens. To understand why many blacks were so upset about the O.J. Simpson verdict, or why many Arab-Americans run for cover whenever an unexplained act or terrorism happens, you have to put yourself in their shoes.

In the O.J. case, a black celebrity, a sports celebrity no less, who
had for years been looked up to by many, was suddenly a symbol of a very stereotypically enforced kind of "black male rage." And against a white woman, no less. And suddenly, you have national magazines turning the dark skin of O.J. into a menacing, evil-looking cover image via photo manipulation.

After the Oklahoma City bombing, it was automatically assumed, before any hard evidence was gathered, that it was the work of Middle Eastern terrorists. I was there, and I spoke to Muslims who were unfairly persecuted and made to feel unwelcome in their own communities in the days that followed the explosion.

It's not the same thing here, really. Hispanics are a diverse enough group that an incident involving one Puerto Rican man is not going to affect the entire perception of our people. At least, that's what we know to be true, logically.

In our hearts though, I know many Hispanics had the same knife-in-the-gut feeling I did today when I saw that news story. He's one of ours. FUCK!

Unfair as it is, it can sometimes only take one incident, or one black (brown, beige, yellow, whatever) sheep in the herd to make people of a limited mindset lump groups of people together.

And, really, what might set this volatile situation off completely is
Enrique Iglesias. Have you heard his new song, "Escape?"

It's a song where he sings in a very high voice about how his love is like this dank, "Wizard of Id"-like prison that you can't escape from. He ends the song with a falsetto that made Mariah Carey call him up on the phone and say, "Um, Enrique, you might want to bring that pitch down a tiny bit."

You can ruuuuuun! You can ruuuuuun! But we can still see your mole, Enrique.

He wails over and over, "You can ruuuuuun! You can ruuuuuun!" like 20 times, until he concludes with, "... but you can't escape my love."

Psycho enough for you?

Look, Enrique. People are already going to think some of us are terrorist collaborators now. Do you really need to wailing about how nobody can escape and suggesting that people run away?

What's even more suspect is that in the video for the song, Enrique is canoodling in a bathroom with Anna Kournikova, the tennis star whom most people only vaguely associate with athletics or sports of any kind. The gossip behind the video was that he didn't want to kiss her because she had a pimple next to her mouth, which they ended up digitally blurring out as they shot her from opposing angles. Never mind that Enrique has a
mole on his face roughly the size of Bolivia.

Apparently, the pimple wasn't enough to dissuade Enrique from
subsequently dating Anna; we can guess that even now, he's partaking of her Kournikopia.

But Enrique has also begun dating the woman who, in her just-barely-post-pubescently-budding-blonditude is every white man's fantasy.

Way to get them going against us, Enrique.

Between terrorists and pop stars messing it up for the rest of us, it's just not safe being a Latino sometimes.


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